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Talented, but Troubled

July 4, 2006 | By RotoRob | comment on this post
Albert Belle was a serious troubled player.
When prospect hunting, be careful not to draft the next Albert Belle.

Today marks 10 years since the Yankees threw Darryl Strawberry a second life preserver, rescuing him from Indy ball and bringing him back for another chance as a major leaguer. We all know his sad, self-destructive story, and wonder what could have been, what should have been.

This is a guy that had 252 homers, 191 steals, a ROY award and a World Series title by the age of 28. The Hall of Fame beckoned down the road, as Strawberry was one of the best all-around players in the game. In time, he traded in his Pinstripes for an orange jumpsuit, and the only halls he graces these days tend to be adorned with bars.

The lesson of Strawberry gives pause to the Fantasy owner who thinks he’s got the next big thing on his hands. You’re playing in a keeper league and you’ve drafted that talented superstar in the making, but your decision, as most of ours tend to be in this case, was solely based on statistics.

But how do we measure character? How do we weed the Strawberrys and Albert Belles of the world from the Cal Ripkens and the Dale Murphys?

Obviously there’s no accurate way to predict whether that stud prospect you’re grooming is a ticking time bomb or not, but maybe we should look behind the numbers when making selections like this. Consider a prospect’s makeup before making the investment.

Did we have any reason to suspect that this was Brett Myers’ shirt of choice? Probably not.

But then we see something like what Delmon Young did earlier this year, throwing a bat at an ump, and the warning bells have to go off. This 20-year-old kid oozes talent. He has the potential to be a 40-40 man and enjoy a Hall of Fame career. But he’s clearly a loose wire, perhaps just as likely to pull a Strawberry as he is to become the next Alex Rodriguez.

Regardless of how talented a player is, there’s only so many chances that will be offered. Young’s troubles may be behind him. Or this could be just the beginning.

It’s a crapshoot. So you’ve got to ask yourself, punk: do you feel lucky?

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3 Responses to “Talented, but Troubled”

  1. Fernando says:

    One thing that I love about baseball is that the HOF is SOOO exclusive. In hockey, the Strawberry type talent might even be in the hall, despite personal problems for his great 5 – 7 year run. That is simply not good enough in baseball. I always chuckle at the radio shows that proclaim Pujols, Bay or Halladay as a future HOFer. Yeah, they are off to a great start, but they are a long way away from getting serious votes. If you’d havetold them twenty years ago that Gooden and Strawberry would be afterthoughts in HOF consideration, you’d have been mocked. Going to Young, yeah the kid seems to have talent, and I’d love to steal him away from the guy who has him on my roto team, however, I’m not ready to proclaim him “the Next One” just quite yet. Show me something first Delmon!

  2. RotoRob says:

    You’re right, Fernando. People DO love to project careers in baseball more than any other major team sport. It seems to vital to understand each player’s place in history and how that relates to those that have come before. Having said that, this dynamic is one of the things that makes baseball so great.

    As for Young, I was just citing him an example of a player most fantasy owners salivate over, but who has already shown that he could screw up his potentially great career very easily.

  3. [...] 1. Delmon Young, OF, Tampa Bay (3) – The top pick from the 2003 draft has finally ascended to the top of the prospect heap. Once the Rays finally decided to bring the talented but troubled Young to the Show last season, he had no problem making the adjustment. And judging by his .320 mark this spring, Young continues to flourish. Expect a high BA and plenty of steals, with major power to follow in subsequent seasons as the 21-year-old matures. Young is the odds-on favourite to win the AL Rookie of the Year Award this season. [...]